Perhaps a single large opportunity may have dropped in your lap, or your stated business plans are to now target larger profile clients of 100-500 plus servers or seats. The rewards of making this move are potentially great for an MSP’s reputation and new expected revenues.
The sales approach along with the customer’s daily and contractual expectations are different from taking orders from small business clients. An aggressive and growing MSP must take stock and build out capabilities quickly when capturing larger accounts. Take your staff with you on this challenge and get the buy-in from all internal players.
First Off, Take Your Inventory
Before considering a move to bid and win a much larger sized accounts, take stock of your own internal resources and the impact of moving up a tier in client size. Not only is the amount of power and space a new demand, the impact to your people and processes has to be assessed. The expectations of the new set of larger accounts may assume you have already made key investments that up to now were only aspirational. Consider an honest internal assessment of these service attributes;
- Capacity – Will the next few new major accounts force expansion to new data centers?
- Skills – Do you have the internal skills and industry certifications expected?
- Expertise – Will this totally absorb your few technical leaders to the detriment of the base?
- Hours of Service – Would these new contracts justify 7x24 support or on-call expenses?
- SLA – Will an SLA with new Key Performance Indicators (KPI) be a big challenge?
- Sales Expertise – Do you have any relationships to leverage, and the sales skills to close?
- Project Managements for Migrations – Do you have the right resources and capacity?
- Operational Toolsets – Can your OSS handle increased ticket loads & change requests?
- Financial – How long before the full MRR is billing? Will long projects impact operations?
- Financial – Are you in a position for financing any large expansion when successful?
- What are your Differentiators? – What is your competitive specialty that sets you apart?
If having this assessment in hand doesn’t deter your enthusiasm, carry on with a winning attitude. Chances are these are all bridges that needed to be surpassed to enable organic growth with the base of loyal clients you have today.
Obviously the sales pitch and the preparation need to be different when landing mid-range and large clients. Assemble a team of subject matter experts and bring in some outside expertise if possible. The entire bid team should understand the scope of the infrastructure to be managed plus the client’s business objectives via the sales team. Use all time wisely to assemble a solution after finding out the clients true requirements and current pain points are. This requires some fact finding while simultaneously presenting your best foot forward.
After some initial qualifying of the opportunity or RFP, match the level of executive presence at each meeting to pitch your services and build the relationship. Be clear that your ownership and/or your CEO is directly involved in winning the business and ultimately delighting the customer. They may have to make personal connections outside of the working groups to emphasize your pride, strengths and commitments to their IT success.
Listen carefully and record the prospect’s current pain points and expectations of the ‘customer experience’. Capture any dissatisfaction they may have with their current provider or the challenges they have to day to deliver IT services internally. State your vision for great service and ask if they hold any expectations above and beyond what you know as market expectations for Availability, infrastructure and service delivery.
Your Unique Winning Strategy …
Your exact sales approach to win new MSP revenues with much larger clients will be unique to your current practice, business plans and ability to upgrade your capabilities. When presenting, bring out the service attributes you are most proud of, and the good stories of your most challenging deployments. Most clients will look for quality support processes to enjoy stability. They all expect the ability to knock down those unexpected issues that will arise large IT shops.
Tune your message to how their current pain points being addressed in your solution. Be aware of the reasons for any dis-satisfaction with their current provider. Promote proof points such as Draft Project Plans, similar Success Stories and the SLA metrics you are committing to.
Be prepared to upgrade your company tools, processes and expertise to go after this tier of clients. Ultimately it is best to be upfront with yourself and the prospects. This will avoid a questionable contract with over commitments that turn into SLA payouts and loss of reputation.
Ultimately when making this transition to a larger class of clients, the message may be that you are small enough to care yet big enough to deliver.
Put Aside the Standard Price List
Pricing new and larger accounts may include a departure from the current revenue models and price lists. It may be wise to use a bottom’s up costing specific to the client’s requirements. Ask yourself what it takes to make this a future reference account. The first few brand name clients in the door can be shining examples that make gaining the fourth, fifth and further high profile clients easier to acquire.
Assess long term revenue impact with the addition of add-on MSP services such as Security, Backup software, network resiliency or partnerships you may have with regional or hyper-scale cloud providers.
Key Steps for Winning Big
- Take stock of your current strengths and weaknesses
- Estimate the impact to investments and your talent pool when you win
- Put together your best technical team to create a solid solution
- Leverage your ownership to make relationships and find the winning price
- Anticipate adding value added products in subsequent years
- Prioritize service delivery to make your first big win a reference account
Plus, Learn as You Go
Certainly be prepared to not be selected in each opportunity. Embrace the learnings from every lost bid. Celebrate incremental improvements in your new ability to compete at this level. Then come back stronger in your next big opportunity.